Staff spend dog's last day playing before he's put to sleep
We're releasing Bailey's heartbreaking story to shine a light on the unjust legislation that labels dogs as 'dangerous' based on their appearance - as the Government announces it will not commit to changing the law.
By law, Bailey is a prohibited dog
When Bailey arrived in our care last year he was just like any other dog coming into kennels: nervous and confused but friendly, playful and full of love.
Staff set about spending time with the lovable dog. However trained members of the team had concerns that Bailey had a certain appearance and may be considered an illegal type of dog.
Bailey was assessed by a dog legislation officer and the team's worst fears were confirmed as he was found to be a prohibited type under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act (also known as breed specific legislation or BSL). By law, rescue organisations are not allowed to rehome illegal types of dogs and so Bailey had to be put to sleep.
Bailey's story is heartbreaking
Our chief veterinary officer, Caroline Allen, said:
Bailey was a lovely, friendly, happy dog. He was gentle and kind, playful and fun-loving. In any other circumstances, we'd have helped him get better, sent him to one of our rehoming centres and found him a wonderful family to spend the rest of his life with. Instead, Bailey's life was tragically and unfairly cut short due to BSL.
Bailey's story is just one of many. In 2017, we were forced to put 81 dogs to sleep because they looked a certain way. Most of those dogs would have been suitable for rehoming but the law doesn't allow them to have a chance in a new home. This is devastating for rescue staff who work tirelessly to rehabilitate these dogs.
Dr Sam Gaines, our dog welfare expert and lead author of Breed Specific Legislation: A Dog's Dinner, said:
Bailey's story is heartbreaking and, sadly, it's one I hear all too often. These are dogs who have shown no signs of aggressive behaviour and given no indications that they would be unsuitable for rehoming. They pose no risk to public safety but are labelled 'dangerous' simply because they look a certain way. They've scored a certain number of ticks on a checklist and that has sealed their fate.
BSL is an outdated, ineffective and unjust piece of legislation that urgently needs replacing. We need to change this law not only to save the lives of thousands more dogs like Bailey but also to better protect public safety.
It's illegal to rehome a prohibited type of dog
Many charities are forced to put happy, healthy, rehomeable dogs to sleep because it's illegal to rehome a prohibited type of dog. Countless other family pets are seized from their homes having done nothing wrong simply because of their appearance.
We have long been campaigning for an end to BSL and launched our #EndBSL campaign in 2016 to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the law being introduced. Our campaign and petition sparked an inquiry by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee into the current legislation.
Ourselves and other welfare organisations and charities around the world are calling on the Government to repeal the law and replace it with something that better protects public safety and dog welfare. As well as focusing more on early intervention with dogs who demonstrate concerning behaviour - no matter their breed. We're also putting a greater focus on educating people, particularly children, about how to be safe around dogs.
Today (Monday 28 January) the Government announced that it would not commit, at this time, to any changes in the law around prohibited types of dogs or allowing the rehoming of Section 1 dogs by rescue organisations.